How TikTok Is Shaping Modern Music
When Drake released "Toosie Slide" last year, it was not the first nor the last song containing step-by-step details of a dance move. It was, however, one of the first songs of its kind by a huge artist in the era of TikTok.
The song did what it was designed to do – become the fastest song to reach 1 billion views on the platform in 2020, according to TikTok's first music report.
We can never know what goes on behind the creative process of songs, but certain aspects of the songs make it obvious. Musicians coming up with new ways to use social media for their music is nothing new. However, TikTok is the first giant platform to have music pre-integrated in its DNA.
The advent of streaming services caused a massive change in the music industry, making songs shorter to hold the listener's attention, while ensuring payment for full streams of songs. Similarly, the effect of TikTok goes further beyond promotion and communication for the music industry seeping into the creative process as well.
According to TikTok, 80 percent of the platform's users say they discover new music through the app, leaving no doubt that TikTok is leading one of the biggest shifts in the music industry, revolutionising every aspect from the creative process to the marketing.
There is a vast variety of music that rules TikTok but the common elements are short musical sections or lyrics that are evocative, engaging, and easy to perform. The production aspect usually contains catchy and simplistic chord progressions. A short bass or rhythm section that is easy to follow along and dance to is a common staple. Some experts have named the phenomenon the "TikTok effect".
Trevor Daniel, the musician behind the famous TikTok song "Falling", explained how musicians are now looking for sounds that are catchy for social media, to make it blow up.
Repetition breeds familiarity, which the platform uses to engage with the audience promoting TikTok content that features certain songs gaining traction at that moment. TikTok has a page itself where it suggests the trending songs of the week and promotes the video if a creator uses one of those songs. Landing on the trending page can mean millions of views for that song. A lot of these songs are released accompanying a TikTok challenge, such was the case for viral songs like Doja Cat's "Say So".
Record labels are actively reaching out to TikTok influencers to use their artists' songs on TikTok, guaranteeing millions of streams. This development pushes the scale back into the label's hands which they can use to influence the artists as independent musicians are unable to afford expensive marketing schemes. But smaller artists are also teaming up with smaller TikTok creators and coming up with creative ideas to merge the two worlds.
TikTok is here to stay, and we are yet to see the long-lasting effects of the platform on the music industry.